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Gambia‘s former Interior minister‘s trial to open on January 8

The trial of Ousman Sonko, former Interior minister of the Gambia will open on 8th January 2024 before the Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona, Switzerland, LTN has learnt.

A publication made by Trial International, an NGO fighting impunity for international crimes and supporting victims in their quest for justice indicates that this will be the second trial for crimes against humanity in the Swiss judicial history.

“Moreover, Ousman Sonko will be the highest-ranking state official ever to be tried for international crimes in application of the principle of universal jurisdiction in Europe,“ the message reads.

With the dates of the opening of the trial, the victims’ hope of finally seeing their abuser brought to justice becomes a reality. “Some of the victims have fought this battle for more than twenty years, and Swiss justice must live up to their expectations” stresses Vony Rambolamanana, Senior Legal Advisor at TRIAL International.

“A possible recognition of Ousman Sonko’s role in the abuses committed during Yahya Jammeh’s regime would be an important sign for the transitional justice process undertaken by the Gambia in 2017. The recent news of the arrest of a human rights defender, a journalist and other activists raises fears of an upsurge in repressive measures against those who oppose the government. The trial of one of the senior officials of the Jammeh regime could send a strong signal, and give new impetus, to the search for truth and justice for which many Gambians have worked to date.“

“As a reminder, the accused was arrested in Bern on 26 January 2017. The day before, TRIAL International had filed a criminal complaint against him. On 17 April 2023, after more than six years of investigation, the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) filed an indictment before the Federal Criminal Court. The OAG accuses Ousman Sonko for having taken part in numerous acts of torture, kidnapping, sexual violence and killings perpetrated between 2000 and 2016 in The Gambia,“ the message concludes.

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